I'm a softie when it comes to animals, crazy about baseball (especially the Cardinals) and a news junkie. I'm also a fan of cryptozoology.
Almost everyone has heard of the Bermuda Triangle, Easter Island, Stonehenge, Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. These stories are fun to theorize about and make for some lively conversations. These mysteries are famous and most are known worldwide. But there are many more mysteries that are just as baffling.
The Toynbee Tiles
The Toynbee Tiles are tiles found embedded in roads throughout the United States and some in South America. They've been found in Baltimore, Boston, New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Brazil, Argentina, Chile and other places. Between 1992 and 2006 approximately 130 tiles had been discovered. The tiles are made with layers of tar paper that have been glued together and are about the size of a license plate. As cars run over them they are embedded into the asphalt.
The first tile found said: “TOYNBEE IDEA IN KubricK's 2001 RESURRECT DEAD ON PLANET JUPiTER.” Most of the tiles found mention Toynbee. This is probably a reference to Arnold J. Toynbee. Arnold Joseph Toynbee was a religious historian born in London, England in 1889. He is best known for a 12-volume series of books entitled A Study of History, released between 1934 and 1961.
There is only one link between Toynbee and Kubrick and it is a pretty flimsy one. Toynbee mentions Zoroaster, who came up with the theory of monotheism in some of his writings. The title of the theme song from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film by Stanley Kubrick, is “Thus Spake Zoraster.”
Some of the tiles had cryptic messages such as “House of Hades One Man Versus American Media in Society 2011” and “House of Hades Tiles Made from the Ground Bones of Dead Journalists.”
In 1983, a social worker in Philadelphia named James Morasco gave an interview to a local newspaper and claimed that Jupiter could be colonized. How? By bringing the dead from Earth and resurrecting them on Jupiter. Eight years later another report tried to interview Morasco but was told by a lady who answered that he couldn't come to the phone because he'd had his voice box removed after a mysterious disease.
We may never know who created and placed these tiles or what the messages mean.
Dyatlov Pass Incident
In February of 1959, nine students at the Ural Polytechnical Institute in Ekaterinburg, Russia set out on a ski hiking trip. They were all experienced and wanted to get away from their studies for a bit. The students set out on February 2 and were expected back no later than February 12. When nothing was heard from the group by February 20, the families demanded the authorities take action.
They established their camp on a slope of Kholat Syakhl, a mountain in the northern Ural region. Kholat Syakhl is a transliteration of Holatchahl which means “Dead Mountain.”
One night, for some unknown reason, all nine of the campers fled their tents. The tents had been ripped open from the inside. They were in their nightclothes and the temperature outside was below zero, plus it was snowing heavily.
When the students were located the investigators were quite baffled by what they found. Six of the nine died of hypothermia, which was not surprising considering the weather and how they were dressed. The question was, why on earth would they abandon their shelter dressed that way?
The other three hikers were a different story. One of them had a fractured skull which was an obvious cause of death. During the autopsy of one of the other two, damage to the brain was discovered, but unexplainably, there was no trauma to the skull. The third victim, a woman, had her tongue missing.
The area was named Dyatlov Pass after the leader of the group, Igor Dyatlov. The region was closed to hikers and skiers for three years after the incident.
There have been several theories as to what happened to the students. Some of these theories are an animal attack, an avalanche, hypothermia, military involvement, and an infrasound-induced panic. The normal low-frequency limit of a person's hearing is 20Hz. Below 10Hz there is a sense of pressure on the eardrums. Maybe the students panicked because of that and tried to run away.
Geoglyphs are designs, usually longer than 12 feet, made on the ground. They are generally made by clastic rocks or other durable items like stones, gravel, dirt or even live trees.
The Nazca Geoglyphs are in the Nazca Desert of Peru on a high plateau stretching more than 50 miles between the towns of Palpa and Nazca. The plateau, called “the Pampas de Jumarra” lies about 240 miles south of Lima, Peru.
Scientists believe the Nazca Geoglyphs were built by the Nazca culture between 500 B.C. And 500 A.D. The Nazca were a people that lived from around 100 B.C. to 800 A.D. in the valleys around the Rio Grande de Nazca and the Ica Valley.
There are hundreds of figures ranging from simple lines to highly stylized plants and animals, including birds, insects, mammals, fish, trees and flowers. The designs were made by removing the reddish colored rocks on the ground to reveal a white and gray soil beneath. The largest of these designs measures almost 700 feet in width. The purpose of these geoglyphs is unknown, but is thought to have some religious meaning to the Nazca culture.
The climate of the plateau is stable, very dry and windless. This, along with the isolation of the area, has kept the designs preserved naturally. Unfortunately, since 2012 the motifs have begun to show some deterioration because of squatters moving on to the plateau.
The Nazca Geoglyphs have been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). This means it has a special physical or cultural significance. Access to the area close to the lines is absolutely not allowed.
While viewing these designs is much easier from an airplane they are visible from the tops of the surrounding foothills.
The Marree Man
The Marree Man is a giant geoglyph that was discovered by plane in June 1998. It was spotted by charter plane pilot Trec Smith who was flying between Marree and Coober Pedy. It is located 36 miles west of Maree in central South Australia, just outside the Woomera Prohibited Area of the Woomera Test Range. The second-largest geoglyph in the world, it measures 2.6 miles long and has a perimeter of 17 miles.
No one knows who created it. The South Australian government closed the area a month later when Native Title Claimants took legal action. Flyovers are still allowed.
The geoglyph depicts a man throwing either a stick or a boomerang. When it was first discovered the lines were eight to twelve inches deep and up to 114 feet wide. The image is eroding but very gradually because of the extreme dryness of the area. The image was still visible in 2013 but it could not be seen by Google Earth by December 2015.
The Ghost Ship SS Ourang Medan
The story goes that around June 1947 two American ships named Silver Star and City of Baltimore were sailing the Strait of Malacca when they heard a distress call from the Dutch merchant ship Ourang Medan. It was in Morse code and said: "SOS from Ourang Medan (unintelligible) we float. All officers including the captain, dead in chartroom and on the bridge. Probably whole of crew dead (unintelligible). I'm dying.” That was the only transmission they received.
When the boats located the distressed ship, sailors from the Silver Star boarded the ship which appeared to be undamaged. What they found were corpses, including a dog. They were “sprawled on their backs, the frozen faces upturned to the sun with mouths gaping open and eyes staring, the dead bodies resembled horrible caricatures.”— from Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council (U.S. Coast Guard, May 1952).
There were no survivors and no signs of injuries to the bodies. While the hopeful rescuers were there, a fire broke out in one of the cargo holds forcing them to evacuate. Not long after returning to their own ship, the Ourang Medan exploded and sank.
There are theories about what occurred on the Ourang Medan. Maybe it was carbon monoxide poisoning or maybe it was ghost-related. Whatever the cause, the weirdest part may be that there is no physical evidence that the Ourang Medan ever even existed. The name doesn't show up in any records, no construction records, no fleet registries, no freight logs, no insurance documents. Which leads to another theory: mass hallucination by the crews of the Silver Star and the City of Baltimore. That would be a whole new mystery.
The Voynich Manuscript
The Voynich Manuscript is a handwritten, illustrated codex in an unknown language. It is written on vellum, a parchment made from calfskin. The book has been carbon-dated to some time between 1404 and 1438. It gets its name from a Polish bookseller who bought it in 1912.
There are around 240 pages, but it appears that some pages are missing. Most of the pages have some type of diagram or illustration on them. The Voynich Manuscript has been studied by British and American codebreakers from both World Wars, but over the last hundred years, there has been little to no success in deciphering the manuscript.
Skyquakes, also called mystery booms, are a phenomenon that sounds like a sonic boom coming from the sky. They have been heard on the East Coast and inland Finger Lakes in the United States, along the banks of the Ganges River in India, Drogheda, Ireland, Japan, and the North sea. They were reported as long ago as 1824 on an island in the Adriatic Sea.
The strange sound has been described as sounding like extremely loud thunder when there is no storm or even like cannon fire. One reason given that they are always heard near water is that inland towns and cities are too noisy.
There are several theories as to what causes the skyquakes. One theory is the sound actually is a sonic boom caused when a meteor enters our atmosphere. Another theory is that it is gas escaping from vents in the crust of the earth or gas from decaying vegetation bursting forth from a body of water. Earthquakes have also been suggested, but the sounds do not always occur during and earthquake and vice versa. Military aircraft has been mentioned also, but the sounds started before the age of aviation.
The Dancing Plague
In July 1518, a woman named Mrs. Troffer in Strasbourg, France began dancing in the street. She kept dancing for four to six days. During that time, 34 others had joined in, and by the end of the month 400 people, mostly women, were dancing. At one point, around 15 people a day were dying from exhaustion, strokes, and heart attacks. There are historical documents such as physician notes and regional newspapers that back up this story.
The leaders of the town looked to local physicians for help. They ruled out supernatural causes and declared the disease was caused by “hot blood.” At the time “bleeding” was used as a cure for many ailments, but instead, they encouraged more dancing. Apparently they thought the dancers just needed to dance it off.
The most common modern theory is food-poisoning. Ergo fungi is a fungi that grows on grains such as rye. The psychoactive product of ergo fungi is ergotamine. It is structurally related to LSD-25 and is the same thing LSD-25 was originally synthesized from.
Devil's Kettle Falls
Devil's Kettle Falls on the Brule River is located in Judge C.R. Magney State Park in Minnesota just a few miles from the Canadian border. The river drops 800 feet over the course of eight miles. There are several waterfalls in that span, one of them being Devil's Kettle.
About a mile and a half to the north of Lake Superior, there is a wide rock made of rhyolite sticking out in the middle and dividing the falls in half. The eastern side behaves exactly as one would expect. It flows on in the river to Lake Superior.
The western side is a different story. At the bottom of that side of the falls is a giant hole called the Devil's Kettle. The water flows into the hole and no one knows where it comes out. The obvious explanation would be that it flows into the lake beneath the water level where it can't be seen, but that doesn't appear to be the case.
Researchers have put various things into the hole that should float, like logs and ping pong balls, then they would search the lake, but nothing was ever found. Is it possible there is an underground river or cave? Not likely. Those formations only occur in areas with softer rocks like limestone. Minnesota has much harder rocks like rhyolite and basalts. Tectonic action can crush these rock layers making the earth more permeable and giving the water someplace to go. Alas, there is no evidence of a fault line anywhere in the area.
Another part of the mystery is that heavy rains and erosion cause debris and even large boulders to fall into the hole. One would think that at some point it would become clogged, but it never has. This is one mystery that may never be solved unless ping pong balls start popping up unexpectedly in other parts of the world.
A Look Inside the Devil's Kettle
Scribbling Geek from Singapore on September 12, 2016:
The one with the ghost ship is the creepiest. Esp that part about no record of it in existence.
Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on August 08, 2016:
Ooh, I do love a mystery! The geoglyphs are the only mysteries you list above I'd heard of. Who made them? We'll probably never know. The one thing we do know is that despite only being visible from the air, they were made in a time long before viewing *anything* from the air was impossible! Or so we think...